Monday, September 16, 2019

Judith Anne Still Suggests Postage Stamp for William Grant Still & Florence Price

 William Grant Still (1895-1978)

Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

Judith Anne Still writes:


I am wondering if you would be interested in posting my idea about a postage stamp for William Grant Still and Florence Price, America's greatest composers of concert and opera music. 

There was a sinister reason for the U.S. State Department and White-Power elements to destroy the promise of the operas of William Grant Still and the symphonies of Florence Price and William Grant Still in the 1940s.   How could the dominance of non-minorities be justified if the greatest American composers were proven to be "of color"?   It was bigotry that caused Price and Still to pass on without the recordings, commissions, performances and revenues that they so richly deserved.

And, over 40 years after Still's death, poor and unknown as he was, there remains no proper recognition by the United States government of his achievement, and the same is true of Florence Price.   Both composers wrote 5 wonderful symphonies each, and the "Afro-American Symphony" is the most praised and performed symphonic work in American history.  Still's cantata, "And They Lynched Him on a Tree," had so many performances since 2016 that it is the acknowledged leader among American cantatas.  Even the Congressional Chorus, along with 3 other D.C. choruses presented it with huge acclaim in the Capitol.  (Trump did not attend.) 

In spite of the public interest in Price and Still since 2016, there is no movement on the part of the United States Postal Service to honor great composers of Color. They honor Blacks from the popular realm in the field of non-classical music, and they honor White composers such as Leonard Bernstein, who said of William Grant Still, "We do not admit those composers," but they do not recognize the composer who wrote the works "To You America" (for West Point) and "Plain Chant for America."

If there are any among your readers who feel that this is an omission,  I would like to ask  them to write to Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee, Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 1735 N. Lynn St. Room 5013, Arlington, VA 22209-6432.  Or to the U.S. Postmaster, see for the newest  E-mail address. A word to representatives in Congress might also be productive. 

This period in our nation's history is critical, to cut out the rotten elements in national thought, and to bring us all together in a spirit of mutual respect and restoration of the ideals of the American 

Judith Anne Still

William Grant Still Music 

Jordin Sparks Joins "Waitress" on Broadway Tonight

Multi-Platinum Recording Artist and Actress JORDIN SPARKS

Returns to Broadway Tonight In


Sparks is a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum, singer/songwriter and actress who garnered worldwide attention at age 17 as winner of season six American Idol. Sparks’ popular singles have sold over 10 million digital tracks and has received to date two BET Awards, one American Music Award, one BMI Songwriting Award, one People’s Choice Award, nominated for two MTV Awards, and a Grammy. Sparks also made her film debut starring opposite Whitney Houston in the SONY Pictures film, Sparkle. She has since appeared in numerous films, television programs and specials as an actress, host and performer.

The producers of the hit musical are also pleased to welcome back three former cast members. Original cast member Christopher Fitzgerald and Natasha Yvette Williams start performances tonight as Ogie and Becky respectively. Caitlin Houlahan returns as Dawn on Thursday, September 19. Mark Evans will extend his run as Dr. Pomatter through October 27.

Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life such as “​The Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie” and “Betrayed by My Eggs Pie.” When a baking contest in a nearby county — and a satisfying run-in with someone new — show Jenna a chance at a fresh start, she must find the courage to seize it. Change is on the menu, as long as Jenna can write her own perfectly personal recipe for happiness.

Waitress opened April 24, 2016 at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th Street). Based upon the 2007 motion picture written by Adrienne Shelly, Waitress is the first Broadway musical in history to have four women in the four top creative team spots, with a book by Jessie Nelson, a score by six-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, choreography by Lorin Latarro and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus.

As of tonight, Waitress currently stars Jordin Sparks, Natasha Yvette Williams, Caitlin Houlahan, Mark Evans, Ben Thompson, Larry Marshall, Benny Elledge, Christopher Fitzgerald, Dayna Jarae Dantzler, Tyrone Davis Jr., Law Terrell Dunford, Andrew Fitch, Molly Hager, Jessie Hooker-Bailey, Arica Jackson, Molly Jobe, Brandon Kalm, Raigan Olivia Newton, Sophia Rodriguez, Stephanie Torns and Dan Tracy.

Waitress is now playing in London’s West End at the Adelphi Theatre and on a North American tour.
Tickets are available through January 5, 2020 by visiting the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th), calling Ticketmaster at 877-250-2929 or online at

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American Slavery Project's UNHEARD VOICES at The Sheen Center, Oct. 15 & 16

The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (18 Bleecker Street at the corner of Elizabeth Street in NYC) and The American Slavery Project present Unheard Voices for two morning performances at 11AM and two evening performances at 7PM on October 15 and 16. Unheard Voices marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Jamestown Colony.
From the creators of last season's sold out Haunted Files, The American Slavery Project's Unheard Voices is a monologue play with traditional West African singing and drumming based on individual burials at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan. Conceived by Judy Tate, 17 playwrights were commissioned to study 17th and 18th century New York and the burial ground with 419 graves of anonymous men, women, and children who lived in and around the city in those days. There are no extant records of the free and enslaved men, women and children buried there. With Unheard Voices, writers have imagined the lives of some of the 30,000 African-descended people and given them voice.
"Some years ago I was meditating at the African Burial Ground. I had been down there when they discovered the graves in the mid-'90's. I was sitting there, looking at the etchings in the stones, and the only things missing were the names. And I thought, wow, these people were buried without names. They need to be given voices. Who does that? Theater people do. We make people live," says Judy Tate, American Slavery Project's Producing Artistic Director. "This was a job for artists, for playwrights. So the American Slavery Project commissioned playwrights to study the burials, imagine the lives, and give voices to the men, women and children that history has made silent. It is so important that we tell our own story. Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Following performances of Unheard Voices, Judy Tate will moderate talkback discussions with audience members and the company. Supplemental educational materials are available for classroom use through American Slavery Project.
Selected pieces from the Gene Alexander Peters Collection of Rare and Historical African American Artifacts will be on display in the theater lobby, including documents of sale, runaway ads, shackles, and other physical artifacts from the era.
Tickets for Unheard Voices are $32. Tickets/reservations for all events at The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (18 Bleecker Street, at the corner of Elizabeth Street) are available online at, by phone at 212-925-2812, in-person at The Sheen Center box office, or
The two performances at 11AM are ideal for high school groups. If you are interested in bringing a student group to a performance, please contact Elena Castello by email at or call 212-219-3132 x1383 between 9AM and 5PM, weekdays.
The American Slavery Project is a theatrical response to increasing revisionism in our nation's discourse about slavery, the Civil War, and Jim Crow. ASP supports African-American playwrights who write about the era, creates conversation in the community, and provides educational workshops for students and adults.

The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture ( is a New York City arts center located in NoHo that presents a vibrant mix of theater, film, music, art and talk events. The arts center of the Archdiocese of New York, The Sheen Center serves all New Yorkers by presenting performances and artists that reflect the true, the good, and the beautiful.  Named for the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, best remembered as an inspirational author, radio host and two-time Emmy Award-winning television personality, The Sheen Center reflects his modern-day approach to contemporary topics. The Sheen Center is a state-of-the-art theater complex that includes the 270-seat off-Broadway Loreto Theater, equipped with five-camera high-definition TV and live-stream capability and a multi-track recording studio; the 80-seat off-off-Broadway Black Box Theater; four rehearsal studios; and an art gallery.

Eric Conway: Morgan State U. Choir performs for Re-Opening of Enoch Pratt Free Library!

Dr. Eric Conway writes on September 15, 2019:

Yesterday, the Morgan State University Choir performed for the re-opening of the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Cathedral Street downtown. The library had a full day of activities beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony with many city officials on hand. The library underwent a $115 million restoration project that took over three years to complete. Thousands of persons came out to see the finished project. 

Libraries nowadays are much different, boasting scores of computers and multi-media rooms as well as the stacks of books. The entire building underwent a restoration, from the basement to the top floor, with a goal of having the building restored to how it looked in 1933 when it originally opened. As a native Baltimorean, I well appreciated the transformation. Many times as a student, I was referred to the main branch of the Enoch Pratt whenever my local branch did not have the requested book on hand. I had a chance to walk around the building and take in the beautiful changes to the library.

What a great day for the city of Baltimore - reclaiming one of its treasures - the Enoch Pratt Free Library! I was pleased that the Morgan State University Choir had an opportunity to be a part of this celebration.
See attached photos to our event, and PDFs of literature given to those in attendance. Also see links to a Baltimore Sun feature story about the opening and a link to the choir’s performance.


Baltimore Sun Coverage of Opening:

Link to choir performance:
We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sphinx Organization: Two weeks until 14-city Sphinx Virtuosi National Tour

In two weeks, one of the nation's most dynamic chamber ensembles will bring 'For Justice and Peace' across the country

Launching on September 29 at New World Center in Miami, the 2019/20 Sphinx Virtuosi National Tour is the first to take place in two parts - Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 - allowing more audiences than ever to experience the diverse programming and electrifying artistry of the self-conducted orchestra.

The tour program, For Justice and Peace, immerses audiences in these themes as they appear in music throughout place and time. Repertoire includes a world premiere by Sphinx Competition Laureate Xavier Foley and works by Béla Bartok and Franz Schubert. Listeners will leave inspired to contemplate their own role, as well as that of the arts, in propelling peace and positivity.

Don't miss your chance to experience the power of diversity in the arts in a city near you: buy tickets today!

Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall annual performance & gala

The tour will bring the Sphinx Virtuosi to Carnegie Hall on October 11 for a performance featuring exclusive guest artists and a formal gala benefiting Sphinx's transformative programs. Buy tickets or support the gala!

2019/20 Sphinx Virtuosi National Tour Schedule
Fall 2019

Sept 29: New World Center, Performance Hall - Miami Beach, FL
Oct 1: University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Watson Hall - Winston-Salem, NC
Oct 4: Civic Music Association, Hoyt Sherman Place - Des Moines, IA
Oct 6: Peak Performances @ Montclair State University - Montclair, NJ
Oct 8-9 (Residency): Longy School of Music of Bard College - Boston, MA
Oct 11: Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium - New York, NY
Oct 13: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - Boston, MA
Oct 14: Cleveland Institute of Music - Cleveland, OH
Oct 15: St. Michael’s in the Hills Church - Toledo, OH
Oct 18: Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College - Easton, PA

Winter 2020
Feb 21: Museum of Fine Arts - St. Petersburg, FL
Feb 25-26 (Residency): Arts and Science Council - Charlotte, NC
Feb 28: Library of Congress - Washington D.C.
Mar 1: The Arts Partnership, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts - Saint Paul, MN
Mar 11: Onstage Ogden, Peery’s Egyptian Theater - Ogden, UT

Collaborative Performances
Apr 2-4 (Residency): Sphinx Virtuosi join Minnesota Orchestra - Minneapolis, MN
May 2: Members of Sphinx Virtuosi at Orpheus at Carnegie Hall - New York, NY
May 19-24 (Artist-in-Residece): Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 - Richmond, VA

The 2019/20 Sphinx Virtuosi National Tour is made possible with the generous support of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Robert F. Smith, with additional support from Aetna and National Endowment for the Arts/Art Works.

Photo credit
top: Nan Melville
left: Glenn Triest
Right: Scott Jackson

Sphinx Organization

Saturday, September 14, 2019 Daryl Duff & Bridget Capparuccia in Negro Spirituals Sept. 15, 4 PM

The Sampson Independent

Clinton, North Carolina

September 13, 2019

This Sunday afternoon, Graves Memorial Presbyterian Church in downtown Clinton is pleased to welcome Mr. Daryl Duff and Miss Bridget Capparuccia for its final summer concert in the series. The theme of this concert will be Negro Spirituals, a genre of music that is both distinctly American and influenced most other American music.

In the late 1800’s, H. T. Burleigh began collecting and arranging the Negro Spirituals in order to preserve them for posterity. Famed Hungarian composer Antonin Dvorak met Burleigh, and they struck up a close friendship. So-taken with the beauty of the Negro Spiritual, he commented, “I am satisfied that the future of music in this country must be founded on what are called the Negro melodies.” Before sailing back to Hungary, Dvorak told Burleigh, “God has called you to take the music of your people and combine it with the music of my people to give the world something entirely new from this great nation that He has raised up. Through slavery these songs were given by God as a gift to your people. Now you must take your grandfather’s legacy and share it with the world. Harry, give these melodies to the world.”

So, how are the Spirituals foundational for most American music? Mr. Duff explains, “After the Civil War, former slaves relocated from southern plantations to urban American cities. They worshiped in storefront churches singing spirituals as a congregation; creating the ‘congregational spiritual’. Jazz and blues musicians attended these storefront church services and got saved. Though these musicians gave their life to the Lord, they retained their musical skills and added them to the congregational spiritual. In time, the simple melodies, rhythms and chord progressions were enhanced by the skills of these former worldly musicians transforming congregational spirituals into Black Gospel music. In short Negro Spirituals progressed to Congregational Spirituals which then progressed into the Black Gospel Music genre we know today.” In addition, we can also easily trace the lineage of R&B, Hip-Hop, and Rock-n-Roll back through the progressions and rhythms of Jazz and blues – all distinctly American genres of music.

Another characteristic of the Spiritual is, of course, the spiritual aspect as most all Negro Spirituals include Judeo-Christian elements. Lyrics rooted in Scriptural themes and deeply Christian fundamentals also bear the wide range of human emotions as experienced through that lens of faith. From doleful phrases of longing to the rapturous expressions of freedom and triumph, the lyrics are quite capable of taking the listener “beyond” the present all the while speaking directly to the hurts and joys of today. Perhaps, then, as we reflect on the origins of this significant and “distinct combination of traditional West African and Western European aesthetic” we can say with the Old Testament hero, Joseph, “[They] may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

E. Daryl Duff is an Assistant Professor of Commercial Music and Voice at Liberty University School of Music in Lynchburg, Va. Having served 23 years as soloist, vocalist and Leading Chief Petty Officer with the United States Navy Band Sea Chanters Chorus, he has sung before four U.S. Presidents, the Department of the Navy, and numerous other government officials. Mr. Duff has been a featured soloist on seven U.S. Navy Band recordings and several U. S. Navy Band concerts televised by the Armed Forces Network.

Alvin Singleton's "Secret Desire to be Black" at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Oct. 27

Alvin Singleton

Alvin Singleton writes of upcoming performances of his works:

On September 12, Seth Parker Woods performs Argoru II at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. Castle of Our Skins performs Singleton’s Secret Desire to be Black on October 27 at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston). Finally, on October 15, the Momenta Quartet performs the world premiere of Hallelujah Anyhow at the Americas Society in NYC (7:00PM). Sphinx Virtuosi in "For Justice and Peace" at Montclair Univ. Oct. 6

Sphinx Virtuosi

September 12, 2019

SPHINX VIRTUOSI This vibrant ensemble — formed by the Sphinx Organization, devoted to increasing diversity in classical music — plays “For Justice and Peace,” a program including works by Xavier Foley, Philip Herbert, Jessie Montgomery and Michael Abels, at Peak Performances at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Oct. 6;

Friday, September 13, 2019

Alvin Singleton's Chamber Music America commission Hallelujah Anyhow Oct. 15

Alvin Singleton

In celebration of its 15th Anniversary, Momenta Quartet presents:

Momenta Festival V
October 15, 16, 18 & 19

Oct. 15: "15 Years of Momenta - A Retrospective" kicks off the Momenta Quartet's fifth annual festival

Program at the Americas Society features the world premiere of Chamber Music America commission by Alvin Singleton, and a tribute to Mario Davidovsky

Admission is free for all Momenta Festival concerts Reservations strongly encouraged for events at Americas Society October 15 & October 16

"[the Momenta Festival] has become one of the most amazingly eclectic, never mind herculean feats attempted by any chamber ensemble in this city..." - New York Music Daily

On Tuesday, October 15, at 7:00 pm, the Momenta Quartet presents "Fifteen Years of Momenta: A Retrospective" at the Americas Society. The concert is the first of four programs of the Momenta Festival V, which runs through October 19. Admission is free.

The 2019 festival opens at Americas Society on October 15 with a retrospective on 15 years of the Momenta Quartet, featuring guest conductor David Bloom, vocalist Brad Walker and curated by violist Stephanie Griffin. The performance features two world premieres: Alvin Singleton's Chamber Music America commission Hallelujah Anyhow, and Matthew Greenbaum's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry for baritone and string quartet, a setting of Walt Whitman's poem of the same name. The program also includes Julian Carrillo's microtonal String Quartet no. 10, and the late Mario Davidovsky's String Trio.

"While planning this program, I could not have predicted that Mario [Davidovsky] would pass away on August 23, 2019," says Momenta violist Stephanie Griffin. "Back in 2004, we had the incredible honor of working with him on this piece, and what I remember most vividly was his passion and theatricality. We dedicate our performance of his String Trio to the memory of the great man and master musician."

The 2019 edition of the Momenta Festival features four diverse chamber music programs each curated by a different member of the quartet, on October 15, 16, 18, and 19. With programs that blend the old and new, the "intriguing programming" (The New York Times) and "striking originality" (I Care If You Listen) of the Momenta Festival have been acclaimed by critics and fans alike.

Admission to all concerts is free. Reservations strongly encouraged for events at Americas Society October 15 & October 16

Guest artists: baritone Brad Walker and conductor David Bloom

Momenta Festival V opens with a celebration of Momenta’s 15th anniversary with selected milestones from their unique and eclectic personal repertoire along with world premieres by Matthew Greenbaum (conducted by David Bloom) and the Chamber Music America commission of Alvin Singleton. The Momenta Quartet is joined by baritone Brad Walker. Reservations strongly encouraged for events at Americas Society.

Mario Davidovsky: String Trio
Julian Carrillo: String Quartet no. 10
Alvin Singleton: Hallelujah Anyhow CMA Commission WORLD PREMIERE
Matthew Greenbaum: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry for baritone and string quartet WORLD PREMIERE, text by Walt Whitman

Tuesday, October 15 at 7:00 pm
Americas Society
680 Park Ave., NYC
Free admission

Michelle Obama YouTube Originals Learning Series Launches

Michelle Obama


Watch at or on
the NowThis YouTube Channel Here

OperaCreole's Fall 2019 Season


Thursday, September 12, 2019

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Online Application

Otis D. Alexander forwards this link to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Online Application for the US & Canada 2020 Competition:

John Malveaux: Mary Lou Williams, Missionary Of Jazz

                 Jazz helped Mary Lou Williams stay alive — but after several draining decades as a musician, she quit the scene. When she returned, she claimed her true power as one of jazz's fiercest advocates.
Metronome/Getty Images

John Malveaux of 

Please visit NPR interview of pianist Mary Lou Williams After Mary Lou Williams death, I contacted her manager, Father Peter O'Brien, who shared music scores and other archival materials with me. During a subsequent meeting with James Newton, composer/flutist, on staff at California State University, Los Angeles, I shared information about Mary Lou Williams and Father Peter O'Brien. Thereafter, James Newton was successful in developing a performance of Mary Lou Williams Jazz Mass at Disney Concert Hall.  See              

Sergio Mims: Lyric Opera of Chicago: Spotlight on BLUE

Lyric Opera of Chicago

In June 2020, Lyric Opera presents 
Blue, a new opera inspired by true 
events. A Black couple experiences 
the joys and fears of raising a son 
in 21st century America. When 
forced to face a devastating loss, 
the family is left to question their 
faith and the systems meant to 
protect them.

What makes Blue a must-see?
  • Jeanine Tesori, Tony Award-winner and 
  • composer of five Broadway musicals, 
  • wrote a hauntingly beautiful score for 
  • Blue.
  • This Midwest premiere is in English 
  • with projected texts, ensuring that you 
  • won't miss a word of Tazewell 
  • Thompson's moving libretto.
  • The phenomenal cast features Kenneth 
  • Kellogg and Aaron Crouch reprising 
  •  their roles as The Father and The Son, 
  • plus Taylor Raven as The Mother and 
  • Mark Rucker as The Reverend joining 
  • the cast for Lyric's production.
  • This intimate, small scale production 
  • will be presented at The Yard at 
  • Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Blue comes to The Yard next June — don't 
miss it! Save your seats today online or 
over the phone at 312.827.5600.

"Drawing on her deep experience in 
musical theater, her keen ear for 
elements of contemporary classical music 
and her abundant imagination, Ms. Tesori 
has written a strong yet subtle score that 
avoids the obvious and exudes a personal 
voice...Mr. Thompson, who also directed 
the production, has written one of the 
most elegant librettos I’ve heard in a long 
— The New York Times

Inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’s award-winning 
Between the World and Me and James 
Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Blue explores 
race, violence, and reconciliation, and places 
timely issues at the  forefront of the opera.

"The times are fraught. Lit by lightning and
divisiveness. Love, family, friends and the
church are there when we need them. And
we need them now. We need a song to
soothe our sorrows as we confront painful,
personal truths. We need music in our lives
and our children near to help us repair
heartache; music to ultimately lift us and
celebrate the bonds of sisterhood and
brotherhood togetherness."
      —Tazewell Thompson, librettist and